We all need a reset from the perils of our busy industrialized lives—here is a list of hot springs to visit in Oregon.
Hands down, my favorite hot spring of all. It is 70 miles east of Salem nestled between Mt. Jefferson and the Santiam River where it is dammed at Detroit Lake. The springs are more built up and are part of a rustic, intentional community—i.e. hippie—resort. However, you can still go for just a day pass. There is no internet or phone service, no light or industrial pollution, just the sound of the Breitenbush River below and the wildlife all around. The springs have long been sacred for the Indigenous peoples of these lands, and I have rarely been anywhere more charged with magic. I even proposed to my wife there! The tragic fires of 2020 ripped through the area, but the Breitenbush community were able to save many of the historic buildings and it is still beautiful there. If you pay for overnight accommodations, three delicious vegetarian meals are included and there are gorgeous hikes, sunrise yoga sessions and massage therapists there for extra self-care.
My second favorite choice is a bit of a jaunt from Portland. Way out in the remote, outer southeastern edge of Oregon on the other side of the majestic Steens Mountains, these springs are not for the fanciful. The two pools are built up with buckets for seats and bullet-riddled corrugated metal walls. Otherwise, they are rough and tumble. The best move here is to soak at night by camping in the nearby Alvord Desert, at the Steens Mountains or even at the springs by renting one of their military bunkers. There is nothing quite like the stars in the desert sky. For a remote and lovely adventure, drive west a while to the tiny town of Frenchglen to see wild horses and hike around the Blitzen River!
Down near Crater Lake are the picturesque Umpqua Hotsprings. I should mention that this and the previous two hot springs are clothing-optional! Be warned, as this one can get busy on weekends and in the peak of the summer season.
Another clothing-optional place that was heavily impacted by the fires of 2020-21, this one is closer to Eugene and is a bit harder to get to now due to road closures and rockslides. It is still lovely and worth the trek!
Classic 1970s hippie vibes and rustic Forest Service wooden structures are galore at this spot. It is only about an hour east of Portland just past Estacada, so expect crowds and a wait. To be honest, this is not my favorite springs.
Soon the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will be reopening these springs which have served as a sacred space to people of the region for many ages. Though I have never been to them, I plan to support the tribes and check these springs out and encourage others to do the same!
Now get soakin’!!